Nationals Baseball: Give Bryce the homestand

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Give Bryce the homestand

Inside. That's the answer. 

What's the question? What happened to Bryce and will he ever be BRYCE again?

You see pretty much all last year and through the first three weeks of this year Bryce was an super MVP force. Then it stopped. It's been 3 months now and while we've seen glimpses of the old Bryce and it hasn't been as bad as you might think, he still hasn't gotten back to those levels. He hasn't been close. So what happened?

Some people will claim that it had to do with where he was being pitched. That he was being pounded low, away, and primarily low & away and that was keeping him from hitting. That is true, but the problem with that is he was pitched that way all last year. (All these things are courtesy of Brooksbaseball.net.  Go there. Use it. Praise it)



See? I mean he did walk 124 times last year, 50 times in the last 2 months alone. And yet he didn't hit like he is now. So if it's not what he's seeing, it must be how he's reacting to it. Here is where he swung at pitches last year.

 

He jumped over anything in the strike zone. He was moderately aggressive on pitches over the plate that may have been high or low, less aggressive with some middle zone pitches inside and out. Has this changed at all?  Well let's look at how he swung from 4/26 when PETE MACKANIN not Joe Maddon you goddamn sycophants, started the "walk Bryce" craze, through mid June.



In possible reaction to the over-walking Bryce has been a little flummoxed. He let the top of the zone go in favor of turning on anything that he can reach. If it was in, he was going for it.  But like almost everyone Bryce's power comes from when he can get those arms extended. Take a look at the isoSLG from last year


Outside of that fluke area up and in it's all out over the plate. HRs per BIP show the same thing. During his down period (and it was a period with a BA around .220 with a .320 SLG - which is bad) Bryce was looking in, turning on inside pitches, but in the end, that's not where his power lay. He may have had some bad luck with the BA but he wasn't going to be BRYCE swinging like that.

So why do I say give him the homestand? Because Bryce has been swinging better recently.


He still might be favoring the inside pitch a bit too much, but he really stopped swinging at pitches off the plate inside. That helps.  Next is probably getting back to going after those "arm extended" pitches. He still might be a little gunshy on pitches low but in the zone. He's generated no power from those and he should. This is what I'll be looking for in the homestand; continued taking of pitches on the hands and attempts to drive pitches over the plate at the knees, while not chasing pitches lower and more outside than that.

That sounds hard and it is. What separates the good from the great is understanding the difference between the pitches you can hit and the pitches you can hit well, and adapting your approach to maximize the number of swings on those. That means taking a pitch you can hit that's a strike early in the count to wait for one you might be able to hit better later and taking a walk then if you get nothing else. It means being able to tell the difference between a strike low on the outside corner and a slider that keeps going, Bryce was here in 2015, can he get back to it? Because this is what teams are going to pound him with until he proves he can.

29 comments:

JD said...

Heat Maps? Harper's getting fancy!

Froggy said...

I don't know what to say Harper other than this is a perfect analysis. Well done.

Only anecdotal thing I might add is the tendency to appear to be opening up with his right shoulder trying to pull some of those down and away pitches.

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

He'll continue to be seeing low and away, and continue to swing and miss, until he stops making his first step be so squarely in the bucket. It's pretty remarkable to compare his swing over the May and June games to his swing the first four weeks of the season; you'd think he had gotten plunked a bunch of times in late April and was trying to shy away from the inside pitches. That, and perhaps a little less focusing on being the style king of baseball will get him back to being BRYCE again...

JE34 said...

What you guys said. Bryce is at his worst when he's bailing towards first during his swing. And when he does make contact, he's more susceptible to hitting into the &(#@%^&!%! shift.

Fries said...

Yeah I've been screaming at the TV for months about Bryce opening up to early on pitches, especially away. He looks like Bill Mueller out there right now. I'm putting it all on Schu at this point, Bryce is one of the hardest workers in the game so you'd think he could fix a mechanical flaw like that pretty easily if the coaches pointed it out to him

mike k said...

WHY OH WHY are these from the catcher's point of view? I felt stupid reading these...I knew the numbers said exactly the opposite of what you were claiming they said, but I also knew that you're smart and wouldn't &$^# up numbers that are right in front of your face, and no one was calling you out on it. I figured the fault must be mine, but it just wasn't, and I was so confused.

I was also confused why the graphs said Harper was swinging wildly at pitches outside of the stikezone, when that was not what my eye was telling me at all.

I get it now :)

mike k said...

*on the outside of the strikezone

Flapjack said...

Not to be churlish, but the bigger question right now is WHY IS LOPEZ PITCHING IN GIO'S SPOT?

And while we're at it, there is a big difference between being desperate to add Aroldis Chapman to your playoff roster and having the spare prospects to spend on him. Chicago might be the former, but the Nats have some really great prospects not named Giolito, Turner or Robles.

NotBobby said...

Rumors that Charlie Blackmon is being looked at by Rizzo. He would make the offense look great, if 1) his numbers translate away Coors and 2) Rizzo does not give up TT or Giolito.

Chas R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chas R said...

This is great, Harper. I do think you are right and that pitch selection is part of the problem. The comments by some of the other riders are also consistent with my simple observations that Bryce is stepping towards 1B a lot on his swings. Also, I was digging around on Fangraphs the other day on Bryce. If you look at his batted ball and plate discipline numbers, he actually seems to be making more contact this year as compared to last year, but he's not hitting the ball as hard. He's hitting less line drives and more fly balls, but those increased fly balls aren't translating to a higher FB/HR rate:

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=11579&position=OF

Mythra said...

Charlie Blackmon is a perfect example of Coors Field hitter. His splits away from Coors:
.249 BA
.383 SLG
.677 OPS

I wouldn't trade the farm for Danny Espinosa without the pop away from Coors.

Chas R said...

@Mythra- yeah those are his career stats. He's actually been much better this season.

Jay said...

Everything I am reading has them going after Chapman. Not sure how I feel about that. I don't see him or Papelbon liking the set up role. Also, I'm not hoping for a great hitter in Blackmon. I'm just hoping for slightly above league average. The fact that they are considering Turner there tells you how bad it has been this year. Plus, Blackmon killed us last year in DC. We'll see. It could all be just rumors flying around.

Fries said...

"Dusty Baker said this was not his ideal lineup, but he couldn't share the reasons it ended up this way until after the game..." Looks like Taylor is gone given it's a Lefty matchup tonight, betting he's part of a package for Blackmon, but we shall see

Froggy said...

Jay - I remember C. Gonzales killing in that series us as well.

Jorge Vólquez said...

Pienso, entiendo que desde su enorme, fabulosa, extraordinaria temporada pasada hacia acá, se ha hecho demasiado ruido, demasiado bulla y esa es la razón por la cual el muchacho independientemente de sus enormes cualidades está un poco presionado. Situación ésta que lógica, independientemente que sea un Reptiliano o no. Las cosas van a mejorar.

PotomacFan said...

Can anyone explain why Revere is batting #2 (against a lefty, no less), while Werth is batting 5th? That makes no sense to me.

Booyah Suckah! said...

Hey, anybody have a suggestion for a good, analytically-minded, non-homery Rays blog? I'm moving to Tampa and while I'll always be a Nats fan, I figure I can root for the Rays too. They're AL and only four letters long, so it should be an easy transition.

Froggy said...

Pienso, este comentario hace marginal si tiene sentido a menos que usted se refiere a Carlos Gonzales, tal vez?

Chas R said...

@Froggy- No creo que él sabe lo que está hablando.

Froggy said...

Jaja..si, estoy de acuerdo!

Zimmerman11 said...

Harper... FYI: The heat maps do not render in Chrome Browser... but do show up if I open the page in IE.

Fries said...

@ Zimm11 - I'm using Chrome and I'm seeing it alright though. Might be a cache issue on your end?

Jay said...

Froggy you are right. I went back and looked. CarGo killed us in that series - 3 homers - the big grand slam against Storen to pretty much win the game. Blackmon was ok, but CarGo was the difference. It will be interesting to see if the Nats do anything in the next 10 days.

Zimmerman11 said...

@Fries - Thanks. I don't know. I restarted the browser...no joy. But they are appearing now. Thought it was weird because I was sure Harper had posted other graphics like that before and they loaded fine.

Koda Glover callup... First 'Lito, then 'Naldo, now Koda... and Turner getting some at-bats. It's fun to see the kids play!

steven hamilton said...

I think it's interesting that my assumption was Bryce was comparatively getting a very low percentage of fastballs, and it "feels" like he's always getting a bunch of off-speed junk and then then one FB that he doesn't swing at...but fangraphs doesn't particularly bear that out:

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=4&season=2016&month=0&season1=2016&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=3,a


He's not even in the top 100 of hitters getting the lowest percentage of FB's. The Nats have 3 players in the top 100, Ramos at 68th, Espinosa at 89th and Murphy at 96th, but Bryce is 112th. Whereas the O's have 4 in the top 10 - Trumbo, Machado, Schoop and Jones, which is incredible to me.

Robot said...

So is Danny back to sucking?

Jay said...

Danny is 7 for his last 41 with 19 strikeouts since the Reds series. That includes 0 for his last 15. Ouch.